Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Simple Loose Leaf: Darjeeling Second Flush Black, A Tea Review

Oh thermodynamics, you are so much fun! Usually my basement Tea Lair (and craft zone) is much colder than the rest of the house and outside, it can be near 100 degrees out in the world and I am still comfy wearing fuzzy socks and a sweater. Lately it has been quite warm, but today it has been rather chilly, so my Tea Lair is the warmest area in the house. Perfect for sipping tea and wrapping up in my nice warm quilt.

Today's tea is part of Simple Loose Leaf's May tea subscription box, Darjeeling Second Flush Black, a black tea harvested in June and a perfect afternoon tea (or so the package says). I decided to take the package's advice and drink this in the afternoon, so let us see if it is right! The aroma is delightfully complex and quite tasty smelling. It blends roasted peanuts, sweet potatoes, muscatel, and an earthiness. This tea has a darkness to it, a weight, it is much heavier than first flush and less sweet...it is a more mature aroma.

Steeping time! I would like to suggest not following the directions on the package, Darjeeling teas are delicate, treat them like you would an oolong and don't pour boiling water on those leaves or you will end up with a bitter mess. For years I thought I hated Darjeeling because I followed package directions, a little reading led me to a better temperature and now it is one of my favorite black teas! I find 190-195 degrees work best for me, but hey, experiment and see what works for you. The aroma of the wet leaves is much sweeter and more muscatel, but more of a raisin than fresh grape aroma. It is quite brisk and also has an undertone of roasted nuts. The aroma reminds me of late summer, but to me Darjeeling always has a late summer harvest feel to it. The liquid has a creamy cocoa quality with strong muscatel and roasted nuts, it smells really good and I cannot wait to start sipping it.

The taste of this Darjeeling is intensely sweet and incredibly smooth! There are notes of raisins and sweet potato, a bit of cocoa richness, and a hint of dried leaves. As it cools it takes on a bit of briskness and has a mild rose taste at the finish. I actually agree with the package on this being an afternoon tea, I could certainly see myself sitting on a porch reading a book or watching the late summer storms roll in while sipping this tea and nibbling on snacks.

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